"Although the use of water power in industry must always remain auxiliary to the employment of steam energy, recent developments in hydro-electric construction forecast great changes in the economic life of the United States", declared Mr. Herbert Miller Hale '04 in an interview with a CRIMSON reporter. Mr. Hale, who is chief engineer of a corporation which controls and plans to develop about 50 power sites in New York and New England, has been for the last three years in charge of the construction on the upper Hudson River of a large dam which will supply power to be used principally by the International Paper Company.
"In this country", Mr. Hale stated, "hydro-electric development is just beginning and the government, through the Water Power Commission, has as- sumed the control of construction on Interstate streams. Different problems, however, arise in the various sections of the country in connection with the two factors which must be considered, namely the volume and head obtainable. In the western states the source of power is principally in glacial streams which flow down from the Rocky Mountain ranges and assure both a steady flow and a high head, the main difficulty in this region being in the harnessing of the available power. Successful development in the East, on the other hand, depends because of the irregularity of the volume of water and the relation of the flow to precipitation, on the creation of storage reservoirs which permit the equalization of the stream throughout the year.
"The first large result of hydro-electric development", Mr. Hale continued, "will be to save a large amount of the nation's coal supply. In New York State the maximum utilization of water power sites would conserve approximately one-third of the coal now used in that state, and a proportional reduction could probably be obtained throughout the country. Such a saving would not only relieve the pressure on the nation's fuel resources, but would also be of great advantage to the railroads, which have a great deal of capital tied up in coal cars, which are loaded only on their trip from the mines, not on the return, and are not usable for hauling anything except coal.
"The second important result of water power development", said Mr. Hale, "will be the tendency of industries to withdraw from the congested manufacturing centers. At present factories are established in districts like New York City because there a steady and economical power supply is obtainable, but as power is generated along streams away from the crowded cities industries will move into the areas to which the power may be cheaply transmitted, and in which living conditions for workmen are more favorable."
"Great advances have been made", Mr. Hale concluded, "in the construction of hydro-electric machinery and in the transmission of currents at high voltages. Especially has progress been made in the building of turbines, larger and with higher speed than was previously thought possible, and now voltages as high as 115,000 in alternating current are being transmitted where a few years ago a current of 30,000 volts was believed to be the maximum. Future developments in transformer capacity and in the transmission of direct rather than alternating current will greatly increase the efficiency of hydro-electric power, and will bring about large changes in the industrial life of the United States"